A record number of Hongkongers gathered for a vigil dedicated to mourning activists who had lost their lives in the bloody 1989 crackdown on democracy protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The crowds were dressed mostly in black and white as they began gathering between 6 and 7 p.m. Many came prepared with umbrellas and raincoats due to the light rain as battery-powered candles were distributed to the arrivals.
Participants of all ages, including the elderly in wheelchairs or on walking sticks gathered around as donation boxes filled up with 100 and even 500 Hong Kong dollar notes.
Many of these Hongkongers previously skipped out on the vigils but felt compelled to attend this year due to the controversial extradition bill. “Once the bill is passed, the basic structure of Hong Kong will be destroyed because we are well-known for the freedom we have, as compared to China,” 28-year-old student Wong Wai-yi told South China Morning Post.
After 8 p.m. six soccer pitches were fully packed with crowds holding up their candles as organizers of the vigil played music and showed footage of the crackdown. Flowers were laid in front of the statue to honor the dead as participants mourned the activists who lost their lives.
The Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China have estimated well over 180,000 attendees in total, as crowds spilled onto nearby areas, easily outnumbering last year’s attendance of roughly 115,000. However the police are insisting the crowd did not exceed 37,000 people.
The Vigil ended with a call to join the protest against the extradition bill which will take place on June 9th and a final march to the liaison office at around 10:45 p.m. as the group demanded the Chinese government “admit the atrocities committed.”
Featured images via Twitter / SCMP